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New program offering help for FDLE officers suffering from PTSD

Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 5:50 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida Law Enforcement officers have a new tool to help them spot PTSD in themselves and their co-workers. The goal of the online delivery program developed at Florida State is to help officers understand why and when they are feeling abnormal stress and how to manage what they are feeling.

Few of us go to work and the first assignment is dealing with a dead body

But for cops, dead bodies, physical threats, and constant danger are the job.

Carrie Pettus-Davis is the founder of the FSU Institute for Justice Research and Development and was instrumental in developing the training program Resiliency Behind the Badge.

“Rates of depression and trauma in law enforcement officers is five times higher than the general population,” said Pettus-Davis during a virtual news conference.

Unveiled Thursday, the three-hour course seeks to help officers recognize PTSD in themselves and fellow cops. Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson believes the program will save taxpayers.

“You want to mitigate use of force and you want better customer service for the citizens that we serve. The thing you have to do is provide healthier officers,” said Adkinson.

Another goal of the online program is to help officers understand why after multiple incidents, they can’t shake their anxiousness.

A portion of the training program, Resiliency Behind the Badge, explains why it might be hard to return to normal:

“After a period of extremely stressful experiences, or even one experience, your brain’s emergency response system may not reset, and allow your body and brain to fully calm back down.”

House Speaker Chris Sprowls told this story on how one officer coped with the possibility he wasn’t going home that night.

“He walked up to the car and placed his thumb on the back of the car, on the bumper. And I asked him, why did you do that? What were you doing with your thumb on the car? And he said, if something happened to me, I wanted to be easily identifiable that this was the car that I had stopped,” relayed Sprowls.

The program went live today and will be free for Florida’s 34,000 sworn sheriff’s employees.

The Sheriffs Association says the new program is expected to save taxpayer money now going to medical care for physical and mental ailments caused by PTSD.

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